The second annual Souls of DuBois conference brought over 100 people together to celebrate black identity in the W.E.B. DuBois College House Saturday. The theme of the conference, "Examining Our Identity: A Day of Introspection," permeated all aspects of the day-long event with seminars, exhibits and concerts all examining blacks and their identity. Associate Social Work Professor Howard Arnold made the keynote address, tracing the history of the college house and black presence at the University. Arnold, who served as faculty master of the DuBois house from 1974 to 1977 and also in 1980, called for an increase in minority faculty, retention rates of black students and courses offered in the Afro-American studies department during his half-hour speech. But he emphasized that progress can only happen when students unite to promote change and encouraged students to unite to change the University. "Change takes place with struggle," Arnold said as he explained the steps which brought about the formation of the DuBois House. He said students joined together and formulated many of the programs which exist today. "You really need a vision and collective action," Arnold said. Arnold also encouraged the students to become role models for elementary and high school students in the West Philadelphia. "I think that there are young people in the West Philadelphia schools that have some problems we need to face," Arnold said. Arnold was just one of several faculty members who participated in the conference. After a continental breakfast, the conference members attended one of the three seminars which focused on concerns of W.E.B. DuBois. English Professors Sandra Paquet, Houston Baker and Herman Beavers led discussions about families and their identity, race, class and education in the 1990s. Baker, the director for Center for the Study of Black Literature and Culture at the University, led one seminar discussing the American educational system. He said the U.S. should consider itself a third world country because American demographics show that only a few people posess most of the country's wealth while the majority of the citizens are poor. Baker emphasized, though, that people should be taught about different cultures instead of being indoctrinated with ideas. "It begins with a recognition of the incredible diversity that characterizes our shores," Baker said. DuBois Faculty Master Risa Lavizzo-Mourey said she was pleased with the event, sponsored by the college house and the Afro-American Studies Program, and said she was encouraged with the interaction spurred by the seminars. "What's more important than the number [of participants] is the quality and interaction of the seminars," Lavizzo-Mourey said. College sophomore Walter Dawson said the conference was interesting but wished more people had come to see the displays. "It would be interesting to see . . . just the general population of the campus come to see this," Dawson said. "Sometimes racism is just based on not knowing someone else's culture."Comments powered by Disqus
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